In the first significant find in the US since 2004 a Foster Farm turkey ranch has been diagnosed with highly contagious bird flue.
The USDA-APHIS has confirmed a diagnosis of avian influenza in a flock of turkeys belonging to Foster Farms in Stanislaus County, California. The initial isolation of the virus was performed in the Turlock Laboratory of the CAHFS and was characterized as an H5N8 strain by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, IA. This strain has been isolated from migratory waterfowl along the Western Flyway in recent weeks.
According to press reports Foster Farms is cooperating with Federal and State officials to destroy the flock. A significant challenge will be to limit possible extension of the infection which may have spread from the farm during the incubation period. Flocks may shed virus before demonstrating clinical signs of disease. Common feed mills with their delivery vehicles serving multi-species poultry operations or different integrations represent critical points for dissemination of infection.
Foster Farms has implemented a monitoring program for avian influenza since the outbreak of low-pathogenicity H1 strain AI in 2001. Appropriate surveillance has been initiated in terms of OIE mandates.
Several avian flu cases have been reported in wild birds and backyard poultry flocks in the U.S. Pacific Northwest since mid-December, prompting China to ban poultry imports last month.
The USDA has informed the OIE and trading partners of the outbreak of a Class A disease. It is hoped that importers of poultry products from the U.S. will accept the principle of regionalization and also allow transport of shipments of raw chicken in sealed containers through California to export ports.